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How to Recognize the Signs of Compulsive Gambling

Compulsive gambling is a recognized addiction, just like alcoholism or chemical dependency. Follow these steps to see if you might fit the profile.


  • Step 1: Recognize the number one red flag Recognize the number one red flag, which is that you are taking valuable time away from your job and your family to gamble.
  • Step 2: Evaluate your financial situation Evaluate your financial situation. Are you borrowing or even stealing money in order to gamble? Has your gambling resulted in bounced checks and credit card debt?
  • Step 3: Uncover hidden meanings Uncover the hidden meanings of your actions. If you’re secretive about your gambling or if you lie about it, you are tacitly acknowledging that you have a problem. If you’ve tried to cut back or quit, you know that you do.
  • TIP: If you have children, it’s doubly important to get help. Research shows that 50 percent of the children of pathological gamblers eventually become compulsive gamblers themselves.
  • Step 4: Assess your feelings Assess your feelings. Do you feel guilty and remorseful after you gamble? Do you gamble to distract yourself from problems or to relieve anxiety – the way someone else might rely on drugs or alcohol?
  • Step 5: Face escalating behavior Look back on your gambling history. Do you have to keep increasing the amounts you bet in order to achieve the same high?
  • Step 6: Ask yourself Ask yourself if you fit the profile casinos use to scope out problem gamblers: They play longer than three hours, are prone to outbursts, and make frequent trips to the ATM machine.
  • Step 7: Gauge your optimism Gauge your optimism. Considering the odds against you, are your expectations of winning unreasonably high? Irrational optimism is another sign of gambling addiction.
  • Step 8: Get help If any of the preceding descriptions apply to you, get help for your addiction – before you lose your family, your friends, your job, your financial security, and maybe even your freedom.
  • FACT: Compulsive gambling rates double within 50 miles of a new casino, according to a federal study.

You Will Need

  • A willingness to evaluate yourself
  • Honesty

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